Vaccine Development for Nipah Virus Infection in Pigs

04 Feb 2019
Rebecca McLean & Simon Graham

Nipah virus (NiV) causes a severe and often fatal neurological disease in humans. Whilst fruit bats are considered the natural reservoir, NiV also infects pigs and may cause an unapparent or mild disease. Direct pig-to-human transmission was responsible for the first and still most devastating NiV outbreaks in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998–99, with nearly 300 human cases and over 100 fatalities. Pigs can therefore play a key role in the epidemiology of NiV by acting as an “amplifying” host. The outbreak in Singapore ended with the prohibition of pig imports from Malaysia and the Malaysian outbreak was ended by culling 45% of the country's pig population with costs exceeding US$500 million. Despite the importance of NiV as an emerging disease with the potential for pandemic, no vaccines, or therapeutics are currently approved for human or livestock use. In this mini-review, we will discuss current knowledge of NiV infection in pigs; our ongoing work to develop a NiV vaccine for use in pigs; and the pig as a model to support human vaccine development.